Today was the last day of my internship. It was surprisingly quiet in my department, I only made a creme anglaise, participated in a tea tasting, and did book research. Ironically, I've been dealing with a lot of French food lately, and I've been enjoying it immensely.
Do I regret doing my internship here rather that one in a Parisian restaurant? Not really. To be honest, many of my friends from school quit their internships, even Michelin-starred ones. It seems that internships there (or stages) aren't meant to teach as much as to break you down and build you back up into a cooking robot controlled by the chefs. Yes, you learn a lot, but it's also about repetition and speed, compounded by extremely long hours and exhaustion. It's not for me, yet I applaud those who love it enough to do it night after night.
I was lucky to do my internship at the test kitchen instead. The hours were 9-5, the environment focused yet relaxed, and the sheer variety of the things I made astounding. You didn't speed through things because mistakes could result, and mistakes skewed your recipe, wasting both time and resources. Most importantly, the balance of food and writing was right up my alley.
That being said, it wasn't easy. I was on my feet all day, every day, and interns had lots of non-fun things. Putting away loads of groceries. Constant cleaning. Grilling outside in the rain. An unpaid internship is especially tough when you've just spent all your resources for a cooking school where the chefs ranted and raved in classic French style.
So what's next for me? What comes after an experience like this?
I'd like to continue in the arena of food writing and recipe testing. It's a little scary to once again not know what the next step in life will be. Four months ago I went through the same thing and was relieved when I got the internship and could postpone real life for another few months. Not having had a real paying job for over a year and a half has been a rickety roller coaster of fun and uncertainty. The next step will definitely have to include a paycheck, and hopefully I'll still be continuing this crazy path I started when I first stepped foot into cooking school.
Last year at this time, I was traveling through snow-covered Germany, visiting Christmas markets and having too much gingerbread and gluwein. This year, I'm preparing to make a trek back to San Francisco before jetting back to Paris for a brief visit. I've gotten used to being rootless, saying bonjour and au revoir to cities with abandon. Hopefully the next step grounds me somewhere- I think I'm ready for some stability and routine. Even the restless need to rest eventually.